Denver Pow-Wow 2023

Denver Pow-Wow 2023
Posted on 03/24/2023

March 17-18, 2023

Every third weekend of March, there is an indigenous powwow that happens in the Denver Collegium. This year was the 47th annual Denver March Pow-Wow, and also the 14th annual visit by D.C. Oakes students. Credits earned toward graduation were either 0.25 Fine Art or 0.25 Physical Education.

Oakes has developed a solid reputation at the Denver March Pow-Wow of honoring cultural traditions, which they learn about ahead of time to cover the course material. Students are among a limited number of participants that stay on the dance floor amongst the powwow dancers, observing from inside the performance. This develops unique relationships with all parts of the convention and people who are interested in interacting with the students.

During this past visit, students had the opportunity to observe what goes on behind the scenes with vendors, ceremonies, prayers, story tellers, artists, and musicians. Students chose beads or totems to represent themselves; one to take home, and one to hang in the school for all future students to see. They sat with elders that helped them discover the deep cultural meanings for their chosen objects, and the students recorded their thoughts in a trip journal - an important technique for reflection, as well as a school record. One of the most popular descriptions within the journal entries was the magic of standing within the drum circles and feeling the beat reverberate in their chests. Students were also pulled into the excitement that indigenous people have for fry bread, and went out of their way to taste this symbol of resilience.

From a student’s journal entry:
“I’d never give up the experience of meeting so many beautiful, kind people and being able to witness a culture that not many people are ever able to understand or see. I will also never forget the support and love given to me by all members of the trip and all the elders I met. Being exposed to this culture that has been through so much pain but stands strong with love and peace is something I will cherish forever.”